Mind Reading - Is it the super highway to physical & mental stress?

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Antonia Boyle of Alpha Waves, Westerham Kent, explores this fascinating subject ...

Alpha Waves NLP for a calmer mindWhen I look around, I come across mind-reading a lot. Not the spectacular, theatrical kind, so popular on stage and television these days, but the type of mind-reading where people misinterpret what is actually being said. More than that, they can almost construct the other person's meaning according to what's going on in their own mind. This is far more common than the other kind and is practiced by most of us some of the time and many of us most of the time! For example, your boss might ask how you're getting on with work and you 'mind-read': "They think I am not coping with my job; I'd better come into work even earlier or the boss will think I'm not pulling my weight." Or, someone pays you a compliment and you 'mind- read': "Why are they paying me a compliment, what is it that they want?" It might be that your significant other is being particularly pleasant and loving and you wonder (mind-read) whether they have an ulterior motive?

If you engage in this sort of mind-reading, it's likely that you will keep re-running these thoughts, over and over, with an internal dialogue that analyses what they meant, what you should have said in return, etc. You could call it 'reading between the lines', but in reality, you don't know what people really mean, unless they actually tell you - the rest is just guessing or mind-reading.

An experience I had many years ago, perfectly captures the effects of this type of mind-reading. During one of my BWY (British Wheel of Yoga) Teacher Training courses, I wanted to clearly explain Mudras (gestures, which have a powerful effect on the energy system of the body). To illustrate the belief that gestures can affect both the state of the person who makes them as well as the recipient, I used a number of examples, including 'finger pointing and finger-wagging'. While I demonstrated these, I moved my body from side to side, to ensure I covered the whole room without singling out anyone. As I did this, my voice became automatically strident, pacing the finger-wagging.

Afterwards, I asked my students what it felt like to be pointed at. They explained that they didn't like it because it made them feel like they were being accused, reprimanded etc. Before the demo, I'd made it 100% clear that the exercise was designed to convey the power of gestures, so they knew what to expect. I also used a range of pleasant gestures to illustrate different emotions. However, following the session, one student didn't return to the course. When I followed up, she explained that I'd upset her, picked on her and she hadn't liked the way I'd behaved towards her. She felt I was pointing my finger at her (specifically) and felt accused of all sorts of things. As far as she was concerned my demonstration meant that I was accusing her. It was evident to me that this student had engaged in some mind-reading during the session. We spoke about this, I reminded her of the reasoning behind my methods and thankfully she did return to the course. Before our discussion though, she had been miserable for the best part of a month; she felt that the course, which she had enjoyed so much, and would be of great value to her, had rejected her. All because she had succumbed to some fantastic mind-reading and got it all wrong!

Habitual mind-readers believe the following: They say this, but they really mean something totally different.

'Negative mind-reading' is highly stressful for every part of you; your body, mind, emotions, energy levels and immune system. As soon as you start 'negative mind-reading' your body reacts immediately - as though what you mind-read is the truth. Chemicals flood your body, prompting the Fight, Flight & Freeze Response. Your brain thinks that you are in some kind of danger and in a split second gets ready to protect you by either fighting, running away, or standing very still (to make you less noticeable)! This is an ancient, protective response but more or less redundant to our modern daily lives. It can be the cause of many health problems and if you google it you will find lots of information relating to it.

If mind-reading is one of your habits, it's likely that you will keep your body chronically-stressed. You won't know when to stop looking out for danger signals and will always be listening for what is meant but not said! An NLP Practitioner quickly learns that mind-reading is just guessing; we don't know what goes on in another person's head and that 'The map is not the territory'. This is an NLP term, which means when you look at a map or atlas, you get an idea of the reality of the geographical territory, but it is not the true reality as though you were there. Similarly, when you listen to what someone says, you might 'map it out' to suit your reality at that time, but you won't necessarily understand the reality of what they are saying. Well-trained NLP Practitioners never mind read: If you hear a NLP Practitioner say, "If I were you...I would do so and so......" they probably need more training, because they are NOT YOU, they are looking at their own map and are mind-reading yours.

And now for the good news - State Control:
Mind and body are closely connected and I like to think of them as one. It is clear that how you think and operate your mind has an immediate and direct effect on the body. So the answer to harmony can be found in 'State Control'. Being in charge of your thinking will alter your mental, emotional and physical state. In turn, this will allow you to think clearly and be in control of your state. Often people need a helping hand to do this. Behaviour such as mind-reading is often 'learned' earlier in life. The cause for this might need to be addressed before it is possible to totally change the mind-reading behaviour. If only the mind-reading behaviour itself is changed, the results can be short lived, if the underlying beliefs and values that support the 'behaviour' are not adjusted too.

A trained NLP coach or therapist will be able to help you untangle these mind- reading processes easily and often very quickly. There are also many techniques that you can learn on my three day NLP Foundation Course. These will stay with you for the rest of your life and will help you to control your state which can help with stress-relief, clarity, relationships, communication and so much more.

Meanwhile here is a little something for you to experiment with. The following is a modified and simplified NLP exercise to help you change your state at will. You can try it quite safely by yourself or get a friend to take you through the steps:

You can do this exercise sitting down with your eyes closed, but it is even more effective if you can literally walk around and step into the shoes of the other people in your scenario:

  1. Think of a person that you might feel uncomfortable with, and imagine this person to be with you in the room now. See how that feels from where you are in the 1st position.
  2. Imagine that you could step into the shoes of that other person (2nd position) and pretend that you are them. Feel what it's like to be them, see the world through their eyes and imagine, from their point of view, that you can see the 'you' over there in the 1st position. How is that for you (as you are being the other person in 2nd position)?
  3. Now imagine that you can move away from the 'you' in 1st position (where you were feeling uncomfortable with the person you had first imagined in the room). This is now a 3rd position. And from that 3rd position, in your imagination, look at the two people in positions 1 and 2. What do you see? Is there anything you can learn from that?
  4. Go back to the 1st position and again look at the person you were uncomfortable with (maybe even mind-reading) and see how you feel now.

In addition, if you don't already, you might like to consider starting to practice Yoga. Yoga is the ultimate body maintenance. In the first instance, it affects how the body feels, stretching the muscles and releasing tightness in the joints. In many yoga classes you will also learn relaxation techniques that will help to untangle your mind. A flexible and relaxed body is far less prone to stress. As you make changes to your body, your mind will respond too and thus you will create a Virtuous Circle. To maintain this Virtuous Circle and calm state in a stressful world, it is also advisable to practice a meditation/relaxation technique. More of this in a later article, plus see Untangle Your Mind - Relax Your Body below.

I look forward to seeing you at one of the courses.
Antonia Boyle

"Dear Antonia, A huge thank you for your Untangle your Mind CD which helped me enormously during a deeply anxious time earlier this year. It gave me great strength & clarity. Thank you so much for investing your time & expertise in what is a very powerful resource."

To find out more or buy Untangle Your Mind - Relax Your Body (CD or Download) please click on the picture link below: 

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